Middlesex County Lawmaker Wants To Save Olympic Wrestling

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Assemblyman Patrick Diegnan Jr.

Assemblyman Patrick Diegnan Jr.

TRENTON – Assemblyman Patrick J. Diegnan, Jr. (D-Middlesex) today announced plans to introduce a resolution urging the International Olympic Committee (IOC) to reinstate wrestling, after news that one of the oldest Olympic sports will be dropped from the Summer Olympics.

The decision to drop wrestling from the 2020 Olympic games has been widely criticized. According to a media report, the decision was made by secret ballot by the Olympic committee’s 15-member executive board at its headquarters in Lausanne, Switzerland. The exact vote and the reasons for the decision were not given in detail. Both freestyle and Greco-Roman wrestling will be featured at the 2016 Olympics in Rio de Janeiro, but they will be excluded from the 2020 Summer Games.

“Wrestling is one of the oldest competitive sports in the world. It made its first appearance at the ancient Olympic Games in 708 B.C. and was there in Athens in 1896 when the modern Olympics were born. The sports, the athletes and the fans deserve better than a decision handed down without any real explanation,” said Diegnan. “This is a blow for every young wrestler who watched past medal winners like Sicklerville native Jordan Burroughs bring home the gold, and aspired to do the same.”

According to a New York Times article about the decision, a shift in priority has occurred as Olympic officials seek to add more telegenic sports and more widely visible stars in hopes of maintaining a sense of relevance, modernity and youthfulness in the Winter and the Summer Games.

Diegnan said the decision is unfair to young people who have dedicated their lives to the sport in hopes of one day competing on the world stage, and would hurt wrestling programs like South Plainfield’s which ranks No. 1 in the state and is one of the top wrestling programs in the country.

The resolution contends that amateur wrestling is a universal athletic experience that should remain in the Olympic Games as a validation of its tradition and the raw athletic talent demonstrated by its participants, and urges the IOC to look for ways to improve the sport and viewing experience and reverse its decision to drop wrestling from the 2020 games so that future New Jersey wrestling Olympians are not denied the privilege of representing their country at their sport’s highest stage.

“This is devastating for young people who have trained hard and have built successful wrestling careers throughout high school and college in hopes of one day representing their sport and their country at the Olympics,” said Diegnan. “The opportunity to win a gold medal is the motivation and drive for many wrestlers at different levels. I urge the International Olympic Committee to consider the impact this decision will have on the sport, and return wrestling to the Olympic games.”

The United States and especially New Jersey has a proud wrestling tradition that has produced numerous Olympians. United States wrestlers have won 125 medals, including 50 gold medals.


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